A year past her death my watch went haywire,
not the hours but the days and dates – jumping
or not to their proper spots sometime in the night
as intended. I believe she may have gotten a kick
out of that, floating beyond time, but just able
to make out what happens here, as from her chair
by the fireplace, bright little eyes dimmed behind
thick glasses that never enabled her to see well –
the one loss she lamented over and over until
those who loved her got angry and scolded.
Maybe my ailing watch, readable but unreliable,
is her revenge for cross words then. She knows,
though, that her carriage clock still ticks away,
losing or gaining time and never exact
for more than one day. With time wobbly,
she could always leave for something early,
dragging children along, fearing lateness.
It is never polite to be late, she taught – never.
She died early in the morning, after a long,
ritual withdrawal from food. A little water,
no food. None. Her hands grew clawlike.
Are you comfortable, I asked, watching the time.
Fairly, she said, eyes shut, sly smile (dry humor
much favored), her clock ticking on the bureau,
odors of cologne, clean sheets, age.